|Not in reality but such pictures help sell bottled water|
Need it be said that the Swiss are different from the Brits. In a Lucerne restaurant, the waiter took me by surprise when I had asked for a glass of water. Big or small glass? It was a moment of reckoning for me. I was almost about to shower my appreciation for the Swiss ingenuity for saving water by determining the thirst upfront, when the waiter had given me a rude shock by explaining that it is one euro in price what separates the small from a big glass of water.
Far from making the west learn hydro-courtesy from the east, the reverse is becoming more of an exception with us. Walk into any restaurant and be summarily quizzed: `tap' or `bottled'. Unless one is in a glitzy hotel where a much expensive water menu is on offer, from Rs 50 to Rs 150 or more per bottle, seeking customer's preference for water has become an accepted norm across all kinds of street restaurants, and even roadside dhabas. And, no one seems to be complaining!
Make no mistake, market economy that thrives on rapid turnover of product diversity have had its impact on consumers' choice for `water' too. Asking `drinking water' is passé for its suspect quality, but branded variants of packaged water with varied degrees of dubious quality assurances have been universally accepted. From ordinary to premium, from spring to glacial, and from aerated to flavored, drinking water has built its own range of products wherein brand draws more value than its contents.
Like ambidextrous master archer Arjuna, who was known by several names, water too has attained an equally evolving nomenclature viz., drinking water, bottled water, aerated water, river water, irrigation water, flood water, grey water, brown water, green water, sea water, revenue water and transboundary water. Each variant has its distinct origin with associated physical features. Does each variant not create a distinct liquid relation based on its (water) fast-changing biological and physical attributes?
Of all the types of water on offer, it is only the 'blue' which seems to be missing from the list. Rightfully so because `blue' has long ceased to be the true color of water, and it survives more on computer screens than as earthly reality! Need it be said that the elixir of life is facing a crises of identity. Each new identity only degenerates its cosmic existence, hinting at the severity of the impending crises. No surprise, therefore, that even the Mahakal temple in Ujjain is now asking devotees to offer treated water to the deity lord.
The world seems to have come full circle on its hydrological cycle. What is found in nature, whether flowing or impounded, is anything but 'sick water'. Amen!
This piece was first published in The Tribune dated Dec 6, 2017.